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Your 2018 NFL Fantasy Football Booms and Busts

Smart+fantasy+football+draftniks+will+target+Houston+quarterback+Deshaun+Watson+and+Tennessee+running+back+Derrick+Henry.
Smart fantasy football draftniks will target Houston quarterback Deshaun Watson and Tennessee running back Derrick Henry.

Smart fantasy football draftniks will target Houston quarterback Deshaun Watson and Tennessee running back Derrick Henry.

Smart fantasy football draftniks will target Houston quarterback Deshaun Watson and Tennessee running back Derrick Henry.

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Football is back! And so is fantasy football! With the NFL season around the corner, many fans are looking for help deciding who to select on their fantasy team for this season. There are many players who are considered a late round gem by some but a bust by others. Those are the players mentioned below. First, let’s get to some terminology:

  • Boom: a great pick for their value and round selected
  • Bust: either a bad pick any way you look at him or a player ranked too high for their value

 QUARTERBACK
BOOM: Deshaun Watson (hou)
The Houston Texans’ top pick in the 2017 draft has shown his potential to be a star in this league. Although he had an ACL tear last year, his second in four years, he looks to be 100 percent now. In his seven starts last season, he showed his ability to make plays through the air, throwing for 1,699 yards (about 240 yards per game). Watson is a dual threat as he ran for 269 yards (about 38 yards per game) in his injury-shortened rookie season. Watson also threw 19 touchdown passes with eight interceptions (he can improve on the interceptions) and ran for two touchdowns. Watson has a great receiving corps, consisting of DeAndre Hopkins and Will Fuller V, and a good change-of-pace tailback in Lamar Miller. Look for Watson’s game to improve and his fantasy stock to rise as the season begins. He’s ranked 69th in standard, non-PPR, leagues by ESPN and sixth at his position. This means you should be able to snag him in the fourth, fifth, maybe even sixth round during a draft with eight to ten teams. Take him in the fourth round if you can, unless no other quarterback has been selected yet, then wait for your next pick, considering he is probably not going as the first quarterback off the board.

BUST: Kirk Cousins (min)
Kirk Cousins, the Vikings latest big name addition to the offense, is not your typical bust. For the past few seasons, Cousins has been, statistically, a top ten quarterback in the league. He’s started every game for the past three seasons with the Redskins and averaged over 4,000 passing yards per season, along with 31 total touchdowns and 12 interceptions. Although those numbers look great, he’s moved on from Washington D.C. and is ready to work in Minnesota. He is now on a Super Bowl contender with a great receiving corps, headlined by Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs, and he has a great running back in Dalvin Cook. The Vikings, though, have an interesting stat that doesn’t fare well for Cousins, someone who last year threw the same amount of interceptions (nine) as touchdowns while under pressure. Last year, Vikings’ quarterback Case Keenum was under pressure for almost 40 percent of his drop backs, third highest in the NFL. Cousins is ranked 119th in standard, non-PPR, leagues and ninth among quarterbacks, which is not too bad of a ranking. Avoid drafting him as your QB1, but if he’s available in the later rounds of your draft, he’s not a bad pick to fill out your bench.

Other Notes: Tyrod Taylor (cle) and Andrew Luck (ind) are high risk/high reward type players for this year’s season. The same goes for Jimmy Garoppolo (sf). Also, don’t sleep on Drew Brees (no). ESPN ranks him 11th among quarterbacks, but he could find a way into the top five, like he always does. Avoid players like Cam Newton (car) and Dak Prescott (dal). Both have been solid in the past but will fail to live up to their expectations. Expect Ezekiel Elliott to take most of the offense for the Cowboys. Also avoid falling into the Russell Wilson (sea) trap. Due to the loss of so many good Seahawks players, they will most likely not be competing in many of their games, which will throw off Wilson’s game.

RUNNING BACK
BOOM: Derrick Henry (ten)
When given enough attempts, Derrick Henry racks up yards. He also puts his six foot three, 243 pound frame to use at the goal line. When DeMarco Murray retired, many believed Henry would be a top-notch breakout candidate. However, since then, Dion Lewis was brought in from the Patriots to create a two-back system, similar to Atlanta and New Orleans. He’s comparable to Devonta Freeman from the Atlanta Falcons. Freeman is the power rusher of the tailback duo with Tevin Coleman, the receiving back. Henry has the same role, with Dion Lewis as the pass catcher. Over the past three seasons, Freeman has averaged 1000 rushing yards plus 452 receiving yards. I don’t see a reason Derrick Henry can’t replicate those numbers. He has a great quarterback in Marcus Mariota and a top tier offensive line. Henry is ranked 44th by ESPN and 18th among running backs. He is a solid fifth or sixth round pick, in an eight-team league, to be your RB2 or RB3.

BUST: Kenyan Drake (mia)
I don’t understand the hype around Kenyan Drake. It’s understandable that he led the league in rushing yards over the last five weeks of last season, but he’s forced to share carries with newly acquired Frank Gore (who could finish with more carries than Drake), and he hasn’t proven anything over a full season. He only rushed for 100 yards twice last season. He also has a problem with support. He has a bad starting quarterback in Ryan Tannehill with DeVonte Parker and Danny Amendola as the leading receivers. The offensive line is also terrible. They do have Laremy Tunsil, but his move to left tackle is not going so well. Without any solid offensive weapons to support him, Drake will be facing a stacked box more often than not. He just has no support and will be sharing carries with an ageless wonder in Gore. He is ranked 43rd overall and 17th between running backs by ESPN and is just overhyped by many.

Other Notes: Dalvin Cook (min) and Joe Mixon (cin), both sidelined early last year from injuries, won’t just continue where they left off last year but will be even better. Philadelphia Eagles’ Jay Ajayi is not a good pick this year due to the depth at the position on the squad and his game-by-game inconsistency. Look for Marshawn Lynch (oak) to finally fall off this year but for Alvin Kamara (no) to grow off last year.

WIDE RECEIVER
BOOM: Brandin Cooks (lar)
What more does Brandin Cooks need to do in order to be known as a top tier receiver? He has played in all 16 games each of the last three years and has raked in over 1,000 yards each of those three seasons. He also averaged eight touchdowns per season. He is now in a great offensive system under offensive guru Sean McVay and with quarterback Jared Goff at the helm of it. He doesn’t have to worry about if he is the first option as Cooper Kupp is the next best receiver on the roster. Also, star half back Todd Gurley will take pressure off the Rams’ passing game. Cooks is ranked outside of the top 20, specifically at 22, when compared to other wide receivers and is 41st overall according to ESPN. This means, in an eight-team league, he is a great pick when getting to the seventh or eighth round, maybe even sooner.

BUST: Josh Gordon (cle)
First of all, Josh Gordon needs to stay off the drugs and stay on the field. Rightfully so, people are hyping up his return, but are selecting him earlier than he should be. The problem, fantasy wise, is that there is only one football to share amongst the Browns offense. He has to split touches with Jarvis Landry, David Njoku, and a brand new running game, consisting of Carlos Hyde and Nick Chubb. In 2013, he broke 1,600 receiving yards with nine touchdowns. The problem is that he’s only played in ten games in the four seasons since that. He put up 638 yards and one touchdown in those ten games. He’s a very risky player, one I don’t feel is worth taking at the price he’s listed (34th overall). If you personally like his upside, just pray that everyone else in the draft lets him slide to the seventh round, a fair price for the uncertainty in selecting him.

Other Notes: Expect T.Y. Hilton (ind) to boost his stock once the season starts. He finally has a good quarterback with Andrew Luck back. The Raiders’ Jordy Nelson is being passed on because of his shoulder injury last season. If he is anywhere near what he was with the Packers, he is a great late round selection. Jarvis Landry (cle) needs to be avoided this season due to the depth at every offensive position in Cleveland, but don’t forget about Sterling Shepard. Shepard (nyg), who has to share the ball with elite offensive weapons in Odell Beckham Jr. and Saquon Barkley. However, Shepard has already proved to everyone he can still rack up points for your team. Detroit Lions receivers Marvin Jones Jr. and Golden Tate need to be avoided at all costs. Jones has his targets cut in half when lining up opposite from Kenny Galloday and Tate isn’t even a top two receiver on the squad anymore.

TIGHT END
BOOM: Jimmy Graham (gb)
With his new squad, Jimmy Graham is looking to repeat his years early career stats when he was with Drew Brees in New Orleans with Aaron Rodgers running the show in Green Bay. With Jordy Nelson out of the way, targets should be going Graham’s way. He does, however, have to share targets with DeVonte Adams and Randall Cobb. It’s hard to predict his red zone production knowing Adams is great in that area, but Graham has been great at putting points on the scoreboard for the entirety of his career, so the threat of Adams is not too worrying. Graham doesn’t catch for 1,000 yards every season, but he isn’t too far off when he doesn’t. When compared to, likely second round pick New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski, his numbers are not much lower. For his career, Graham averages 973 yards when targeted over 50 times in a season while Gronkowski averages 1,100. In those same seasons, Graham averages over 10 touchdowns per season, compared to Gronkowski at almost 12. Ranked at 84th overall and seventh among tight ends, Graham is a low risk/high reward type player and in the ninth or tenth round of an eight team league, is a great selection.

BUST: Evan Engram (nyg)
Coming off of a spectacular rookie season with the New York Giants, many may wonder why Evan Engram is on this side of the list. It’s all situational with him. His rookie season, in which he caught 64 receptions for 722 yards and six touchdowns, was during the Giants’ biggest nightmare last season. Well now, it’s been great for them considering they were able to select Saquon Barkley in the draft. The Giants went into last season as a team with a shot at the Super Bowl; however, by week six, the Giants’ top three wide receivers were out with injury, with Odell Beckham Jr. and Brandon Marshall on the injured reserve list. This opened many possible targets for Engram, and he took advantage of it, averaging 52.2 receiving yards per game after week six, four of those games with 70 plus yards. Looking at the squad now, though, Beckham and Shepard are back and Marshall may be gone, but Barkley just established the Giants’ ground game. The amount of options Eli Manning will have at his disposal now will limit Engram’s fantasy production. He is one to avoid on my list.

Other Notes:  Bears tight end Trey Burton is looking to be a prime breakout candidate at the position. He is going to be utilized with his new team creating mismatches across the field. Many are high on Cleveland’s David Njoku as well, but that is why I would avoid him. He will have a limited role and will be drafted way to high for his low upside lining up with Jarvis Landry and Josh Gordon. Travis Kelce (kc) will be a good selection this season because he now has some support. He is in a different situation than most as he has an extremely talented duo of receivers next to him in Sammy Watkins and Tyreke Hill, but only Watkins is a real red zone threat. Kelce was targeted 21 times, catching 10 of them, in the red zone. He should be open more this year due to the addition of Watkins.

Use this as your guide to taking home your fantasy football league’s championship crown this NFL season. Good luck to everyone drafting.

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